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The UK's most popular theme park, Alton Towers is situated in the grounds of a semi-derelict gothic country house in Staffordshire. The park is huge, covering some 500 acres, although its attractions are concentrated in a few themed areas on different sides of the estate's famous gardens and woodland. As well as 6 major rollercoasters, the park includes several dark rides, an assortment of flat rides and an increasing number of attractions aimed at younger guests.
Few theme parks can trace their roots back 3000 years, but that's approximately when the first iron age fort was built close to the Alton Towers site. Following that, a number of different buildings stood there before being converted in the 19th century to the current Gothic style. 1980 saw the installation of the Corkscrew rollercoaster, and the start of the estate's evolution into a major theme park. Since then, major rides such as Nemesis (Europe first's inverted rollercoaster), Oblivion (the world's first vertical drop rollercoaster) and Thirteen (the world's first vertical free fall drop rollercoaster) have helped the park to continue to grow. Since 2007, it has been operated by Merlin Entertainments Group, the same company that runs Legoland and Madame Tussauds attractions around the world.